The hero is Mr Priam Farll, a painter of considerable ability. He is, however, extremely shy – so shy that when his valet, Henry Leek, dies suddenly, the doctor believes the dead man to be Priam Farll and the live man the valet. The artist does not try to disabuse him. After the funeral (in Westminster Abbey), Priam Farll marries a widow and lives a happy life until the loss of his wife’s money means he has to take up painting again. A connoisseur of art recognises his style but thinks the paintings are by an imposter. He makes a fortune by buying his works through a small dealer and selling them in America as genuine. Meanwhile Priam Farll refuses through his obstinate shyness to prove his own identity.